Friday, February 27, 2009

A Blog Worth Visiting...

I don't have much time to post today, but I did manage to read the new entries in all of the blogs that I follow on a daily basis. Lately, I have been getting a lot of good information from Brad at Rich Heritage. I have been reading his posts about raising quail as a hobby and for meat. If you haven't had the opportunity to check him out, I highly recommend that you do!

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Local Habitat Revisited

We went back to the local Habitat Re-Store again today. We are going to try to go every Monday on my lunch hour. We scored again, spending only $15, but some of what we picked up will NEVER be used to build a chicken pen or a raised bed. We got several pieces of maple lumber. I'm not sure what we will use it for, but there was no way that we were going to leave that in the store! It wasn't of the quality that I would want to use for shelves in my house, but maybe it could be used to build outdoor benches? I don't really know. I am open to any ideas that you all might have. Each board is about 4 feet long and 8 inches wide.They are really heavy. I guess I'm used to the weight of similar sized pieces of pine.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Worms Crawl In...The Worms Crawl Out...

I have spent the last week doing a lot of pesky little items to get things ready so we can hit the ground running when the weather finally breaks. I did some baking which added to the eggshell stash. I started herb seeds on Saturday and shared my trip to the Habitat For Humanity Re-Store with everyone a few days ago.

I also picked up the necessary items to create a worm composter. So... yesterday was the day to put that project together. I had planned to wait until we were a little closer to Spring, but I have an issue with the amount of food that we waste in our house. No matter how hard we try, we still have some food trash each week. We don't have a dog,a cat, or a chicken to eat the scraps, so they go into the trash. I am really hoping that the worms don't smell atrocious in the house as they do their work. (Otherwise, I'll have a lot of explainin' to do to The MartianMan until they can go outside!) I will also have to place an order for the worms. Hopefully, I will receive them by next week. I found the directions for building the composter here:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Re-Storing My Faith

I know... I have gone many days without posting and today I felt the need to post twice. I just had to share about my experience with our local Habitat For Humanity Re-Store. I work highly unusual hours and haven't had the opportunity to visit the Re-Store during their highly USUAL hours. So...TheMartianMan and I both had the morning off from work and decided to use the time wisely.

The local Re-Store is now our new favorite place! We found lumber as inexpensively as 50 cents per piece. In fact, we purchased enough wood to create one and a half raised garden beds. We paid with a ten dollar bill and still had more than $3 come back to us in change. TheMartianMan checked out all of the windows, doors and hinges. He was most impressed with the selection. They also had a large quantity of new power tools and used gardening tools. Still looking for welded wire fencing or hardware cloth, though.

If there is a Habitat For Humanity Re-Store in your area, I highly recommend that you check them out. Now, I am trying to figure out how I can sneak out during my lunch hour once a week to check out the new stuff that they might get. An hour might not be enough time...

Here, Chickie Chickie...

Buying chickens is never easy when you live in the city. Many urban areas don't allow poultry at all, while others place restrictions by requiring hens only and by setting a maximum number of birds between 3 and 10. That is darned inconvenient when most hatcheries have a shipping minimum of 25 baby chicks. Grrrr...

Luckily, I found My Pet Chicken. My Pet Chicken will allow me to order a small quantity of chicks, guarantee live delivery and they are so darn friendly when you call to ask a (seemingly) idiotic question. I should know...I called. I was told that they will soon be selling hatching eggs, too.

I also found a way to be able to breed chickens. My good friend, Ollie, has a farm and some hens of his own. He has agreed to house my rooster when his , er, services are not required at the urban farmstead. Now, I just have to figure out which breed of bird to go with.Chickens actually only need a rooster's services every few weeks to fertilize the eggs. Whew! Now that's one less thing to worry about.

Since we now have a safe place for a rooster, we may decide to purchase an incubator instead of buying day old chicks. Hatching eggs sounds like a lot of fun. Hatching eggs of a rare or endangered breed of poultry sounds like a good idea for the planet!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

In the Mood to Brood...

Realizing yesterday morning that I had made no arrangements for brooding my baby chicks when they (eventually) arrive, I set out to rectify the situation. With my mantra of Re-think, Re-use, Re-purpose reverberating in my skull, I quickly settled on a long cardboard box with a lid.

I had originally considered using a Rubbermaid tote that had been purchased it at WalMart about a year ago( shortly before I decided to boycott the retail chain).

The plastic tote measured only about 4x2 feet. I wanted to install a window in the side of the tote, but decided against it. While I am sure that the chicks would have appreciated a room with a view, I didn't want to do anything to a tote that would interfere with it being reused again for something else.

So, I moved on to converting a fabulous, lidded corrugated box. The box would provide more floor space for the birds than the tote would have anyway. Since I can only have a few chickens in the city, it is unlikely that I will need a brooder of this size again, so I have no plans to recycle it when we are through with it. Since it is made of cardboard it will be contaminated from chicken poo and incapable of being cleaned.All bedding materials will of course be turned out into the compost pile.

Anyway...I wanted the brooder to be large enough to accommodate 6 chicks, so I devised something that they could grow into. The floor of the box is waterproofed with leftover linoleum from some of the rental apartments that we own. Martha Stewart probably wouldn't approve of my taste in decorating, but the flooring will be covered in pine shavings, so the chicks won't really be embarrassed by it anyway.I found a roll of screen in my basement and will probably use that to cover the top. However, I am toying with the idea of using an old sheer curtain instead...Hmmm... The birds will only occupy one portion of the box initially. When they need more room, I will bring out the other half of the box(the lid)and put the two parts together, instantly doubling their space.(What you see in the photo is the expanded version which measures 4x5 feet.) Even more convenient is the fact that the two parts of the box actually "nest" together for storage until we actually need to expand it. This project was accomplished entirely with things that we had lying around the house and took about an hour to complete.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Counting Coins

I thought that I should take a few minutes to tally up what we've spent so far to get our property ready to be an urban farmstead. I have separated the expenses by category:

Children's Playhouse..................$80
Plastic Dishpan.......................$ 1
Plastic Crate.........................$ 1
Diatomaceous Earth....................$15
Crushed Eggshells.....................$ 0
Poultry Waterer Heater................$ 0
Poultry Feeder........................$ 0
Oyster Shell Dish.....................$ 0

Garden - Budget $300
Member to Member Seedswaps............$ 5
Mushroom Kit..........................$28

Aquaculture - Budget $300

Miscellaneus - Budget $200
1000 Mealworms........................$20
Oatmeal...............................$ 4
Aquarium..............................$ 0